A health care professional skilled in the assessment, evaluation, treatment, management, and care of patients with respiratory problems. Clinical tasks are diagnostic and therapeutic to include administration of medical gases (oxygen, helium, and carbon dioxide), aerosol and humidity therapy, intermittent positive-pressure breathing (IPPB) therapy, incentive spirometry, artificial mechanical ventilation, arterial blood gas analysis, and pulmonary function testing. The respiratory therapist also has a knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and medicine sufficient to serve as a supervisor and consultant. The minimum educational requirements is an associate (2-year) degree. Those registered by the National Board for Respiratory Care are designated RRT, Registered Respiratory Therapist.
Call 785-670-2170 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to request more information by mail or email Rusty Taylor, Program Director, firstname.lastname@example.org.
A decision to become a respiratory therapist should be made only after a very personal commitment is made to become a health care professional with direct patient contact. This decision should not be made lightly because it requires assuming the responsibility of caring for patients who are seriously ill. A career as a respiratory therapist provides exciting and intellectually challenging work with sophisticated life-support systems. Respiratory therapists are important members of the health care team, working with medical direction from pulmonologists and physicians specialized in trauma resuscitation, emergency and critical care, and pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation. Respiratory therapists typically feel a strong sense of accomplishment and know that their work is important.
Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRTs) have a well-define scope of practice and have been identified by the Medical Board of the National Academy of Sciences as Type B Physician Assistants. Type B Physician Assistants are expected to have more knowledge about their medical specialty than the average physician who is not board certified in that area.
Accordingly, RRTs are expected to make recommendations on the respiratory care of patients with pulmonary disorders. This level of interaction with physicians and other members of the health care team can be very rewarding. RRTs are considered to be authorities on the operation of life-support equipment used in critical care areas such as trauma centers and intensive care units. Interfacing mechanical ventilators to critically ill patients in respiratory failure, in order to provide life support, places great intellectual demands on the respiratory therapist. Accordingly, respiratory therapists have high standards, with specialty board examinations provided by the National Board for Respiratory Care and licensure of respiratory therapists by 48 states plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico. Career opportunities abound for both men and women as staff therapists or managers in critical care, rehabilitation, and education, or as technical specialists for high-tech equipment companies.
SOURCE: Encyclopedia & Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health, 5th Edition; Miller and Keane. W.B. Saunders
Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care
1248 Harwood Road
Bedford, Texas 76021-4244
Outcomes data from the 2013 Annual Report of Current Status has been posted on the CoARC website. Follow this link directly to the Programmatic Outcomes Data page: http://www.coarc.com/47.html.